Every right-thinking American understands it is the federal government’s solemn duty to not only create jobs but also to save them. This makes the slow federal response to the bankruptcy announcement from book retailer Borders and the resulting layoffs especially disturbing. I understand that Washington is preoccupied with the budget deficit and budget cuts, but let’s consider some common-sense, job-saving steps the federal government can take without spending a dime.
Here is a bold ten-step action plan:
1. Each adult American from age 18 until death should be required to purchase at least one book per week from Borders, or pay a $100 fine to the Borders Relief Fund. We’ll call this the individual “book-date.”
2. Every living acoustic folk singer or group should be required to perform at least one show per month in a local Borders store, gratis, or face a $1,000 fine.
3. Every man, woman, and child should be required to “pay to browse”; that is, for every 20 minutes spent browsing in a Borders store, a book or magazine must be purchased. X-rated materials should not qualify. Additional purchases are required for each additional 20-minute browsing segment.
4. The Environmental Protection Agency and the Food and Drug Administration should issue an immediate environmental hazard warning about the potential for blindness, erectile dysfunction, and/or sterility from reading books on Kindle or other handheld devices.
5. The Department of Justice should launch an immediate antitrust investigation into all activities of Amazon.com and iTunes.
6. The First Lady’s “Let’s Move” campaign to fight childhood obesity should announce new studies connecting the regular use of books greater than 300 pages (especially hard cover) to improved upper body strength and cardiovascular fitness.
7. It should become a federal crime to print anything off the Internet, subject to substantial penalties. Fines should be tripled for the printing of a PDF document.
8. The Departments of Agriculture should issue guidance that the most effective and “sustainable” method of killing the common house fly and other bugs and pests is to use an extremely heavy book.
9. There should be immunity from sexual discrimination laws, including sexual harassment, for any person attempting to seduce a member of the opposite or same sex in the workplace by quoting romantic or erotic poetry from an actual hard copy book.
10. It should be illegal to sell or purchase ottomans or footstools or similar furniture in the United States. A pile of read or unread books offers the perfect substitute.
While some free-market economists will argue that job losses resulting from technological changes reflect a process of “creative destruction” that ultimately brings more opportunity, jobs, and innovation in the long-run, the long-run is only for the extremely patient. That’s not who we are. We demand immediate federal relief. Change can happen fast, which is why we need the federal government to slow it down. I for one am sick and tired of hearing politicians in Washington say they care about jobs, only to watch them sit by idly when our very Borders security is at risk.
C. Scott Litch is the chief operating officer and general counsel for a non-profit association. Scott is a licensed attorney, Certified Association Executive, and also holds a masters degree in public policy. He is the author of The Principled Conservative in 21st Century America, released in the fall of 2010 just prior to the GOP midterm election tsunami.